Grammar Mondays: modals 6

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The modal may is used to express two things: politeness and possibility.

In terms of possibility, it can replace might, though might is more commonly used than may in this context.

More often, school children learn that may is used for good manners. For example, rather than using the modal can when asking for something, use may:

  • May I have another cookie please?
  • May I go to the bathroom? (A child asking at school.)
  • May I leave the table?
  • May I? (Said simply when it is obvious what the question is, for example, when you’re indicating that you’d like to offer your help.)
  • How may I help you? (If you’re a shop assistant speaking to a customer.)

Do you have any questions? Leave them in the comments, or email me directly!

Grammar Mondays: modals 5

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Might reflects possibility. We use this modal if we are unsure that something will or will not happen.

For example, if you’re unsure of your plans for the evening, you could say: I might go out, but I’m not sure.

If you’re unsure if you’d like to go out, you could also say: I might not go tonight, we’ll see.

Whether you use the affirmative or negative form is really up to you and how you want to spin your sentence. Do you want to emphasize that you might NOT do something (you’re leaning towards no)? Or that you might do something (you’re leaning towards yes)?

Give it a try, and don’t forget, if you have questions, give us a shout!

Grammar Mondays: modals 4

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We often use should to offer advice, or indicate something that is good or not good to do.

Should is never conjugated, and is used with another verb, in the infinitive.

Here are some more examples:

  • Mary should play more often if she wants to get better.
  • You should see your doctor every year for a health check up.
  • People should pay more attention to their diets.
  • You should exercise regularly.

In question form, simply invert the modal and the subject:

  • Should I take these pills with a meal?
  • Should you be doing that?
  • Should we leave now?
  • Shouldn’t you be at the theatre by now?

Have you got any questions? Be sure to leave them in the comments!

Grammar Mondays: modals 2

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Must reflects an obligation. It is usually used to talk about rules or prohibitions. For example:

  • You mustn’t run by the pool.
  • You must wear a helmet when you ride your bike.
  • Pupils must raise their hand when they want a turn to speak.
  • A receptionist must answer the phone when it rings.
  • You mustn’t go swimming immediately after a meal.

Now it’s your turn, try to think of three things you must do, and three things you musn’t do.

L’astuce de la semaine: les comparatifs

Un rapide point de langue pour vous rappeler comment utiliser les COMPARATIFS (de supériorité, d’égalité ou d’infériorité) en français.

La comparaison avec un ADJECTIF:

Marie est plus grande que Sophie.

Marie est aussi grande que Sophie.

Marie est moins grande que Sophie.

=> Ici je compare 2 éléments/personnes (Marie et Sophie) selon le critère de la taille (« grande »).

La comparaison avec un ADVERBE:

Marie court plus vite que Sophie.

Marie court aussi vite que Sophie.

Marie court moins vite que Sophie.

=> Ici je compare 2 éléments/personnes (Marie et Sophie) selon le critère de la vitesse (courir « vite »).

La comparaison avec un NOM:

Marie a plus de cartes que Sophie.

Marie a autant de cartes que Sophie.

Marie a moins de cartes que Sophie.

=> Ici je compare 2 éléments/personnes (Marie et Sophie) selon le critère du nombre de cartes possédées.

La comparaison avec un VERBE:

Marie dort plus que Sophie.

Marie dort autant que Sophie.

Marie dort moins que Sophie.

=> Ici je compare 2 éléments/personnes (Marie et Sophie) selon le critère du sommeil (action, « dormir »).

La semaine prochaine, un point sur les SUPERLATIFS !

En attendant, posez vos questions en commentaire!

Grammar Mondays: modals 1

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Many people struggle with modal verbs because they seem scary. But they’re not so bad, really!

The rules are quite simple:

  • Modal verbs are never conjugated.
  • In a question, they don’t need an auxiliary.
  • They always need a supporting verb in a sentence, and that verb is never conjugated.

So here are some examples with the modal can:

  • My dog, Charlie, can jump very high.
  • Can you help me with this?
  • I can hop on one leg!

Do you have any questions? Drop me a line or join our Facebook group: and ask there, we’ll get back to you ASAP!

L’astuce de la semaine: Bien ou bon?

à retenir: BIEN est toujours invariable et ne change jamais. BON s’accorde en genre (féminin ou masculin) et en nombre (singulier ou pluriel).

« Bien » exprime un jugement de valeur, moral. Il est synonyme de « correct », « conforme », « juste ». Le contraire de « bien » est « mal ».

« Bon » exprime un jugement basé sur le goût. Il est synonyme de « agréable », « délicieux », « doué » ou même « gentil ». Le contraire de « bon » est « mauvais ».

Attention! Pour le superlatif, on ne dit pas « plus bon » mais « meilleur ». On ne dit pas « plus bien » mais « mieux ».

« Bon » et « bien » servent aussi à ponctuer votre discours à l’oral.

Grammar Mondays: adjectives 7

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Here are a few more examples of how we might use the superlative in everyday speech:

When I was growing up, I thought Toronto was the coolest city in the world. As a kid, I also thought it was the biggest. I was very proud that we had the tallest tower in the world, and that we had one of the largest lakes.

So, what are some of your best memories? Do you remember your grandpa as having the biggest house in the country, only to realize, when you grew up, that it was quite normal?

Leave your answers in the comments!

Grammar Mondays: adjectives 4

I often hear my students make the following mistake: « I am very interesting in this subject. » Or, they might say, « I am boring, » when they mean: « I am bored. »

These are very common mistakes. So how can we remedy them?

Try to pick up an example that you feel comfortable with, like: I am bored. = I feel bored. When you are unsure which form of the adjective to use, think back to your tested and tried example. Do you feel interested? If yes, then you should say: I am interested.

Let’s have another one. The Ring is frightening. I am frightened. = The Ring is a frightening film, therefore I feel frightened. If you say: I am frightening, that means you think people are afraid of you!

Okay, now you try it. Make three sentences with the following adjectives: tempted/tempting; excited/exciting; embarrassed/embarrassing.